How to Raise Turkeys in Your Backyard: A Beginner’s Guide

how to raise turkeys in your backyard

Welcome to our beginner’s guide on how to raise turkeys in your backyard! Whether you’re looking to keep them as pets, for meat, or for their eggs, turkeys can make a great addition to any backyard farm.

However, taking care of these large birds can be quite different from raising chickens or ducks. In this guide, we’ll cover the essential information you need to know to raise happy and healthy turkeys right in your own backyard.

Key Takeaways

  • Learn how to select your turkey poults and prepare their living environment properly
  • Understand the basics of turkey feeding, watering, and overall health management
  • Gain knowledge about turkey behavior patterns, flock dynamics, and effective ways to handle and interact with your turkeys

Getting Started: Setting Up Your Backyard for Turkey Rearing

If you’re planning to raise turkeys in your backyard, it’s essential to set up their living space correctly. Here are some important factors to consider:

Suitable Housing

Your turkeys will need a suitable shelter to protect them from the elements and predators. A coop or shed can work well, but ensure that it’s large enough to accommodate the number of birds you plan to keep. Each bird should have around 10 to 15 square feet of indoor space, with additional outdoor space to graze.

You’ll want to ensure that the coop is well-ventilated and that the temperature is regulated. Turkeys are susceptible to heatstroke, so avoid overcrowding and provide ample shade during the summer months. In colder weather, add insulation or a heat source to keep your turkeys warm.

Space Requirements

Turkeys need plenty of space to move around and exercise. They should have access to a large outdoor area for grazing and foraging. Aim for around 25 to 50 square feet per bird, depending on the size of your turkeys.

Ensure that the outdoor space is adequately fenced and protected from predators such as foxes, coyotes, and raccoons. Consider burying the fence at least a foot underground to prevent burrowing.

Safety Considerations

Keeping turkeys in your backyard requires careful attention to safety. Ensure that the coop and outdoor space are predator-proof, and regularly inspect the fencing and shelter for any damage or holes. Keep food and water sources clean and away from potential contaminants such as feces or rotting food.

Where to Source Turkey Poults and Preparing Their Living Environment

You can purchase turkey poults from hatcheries or local feed stores. When choosing poults, opt for healthy-looking birds with no visible signs of illness or injury. Before bringing them home, ensure that their living space is clean and adequately prepared, with bedding, waterers, and feeders in place. Provide a heat source for the first few weeks to keep them warm, and gradually decrease the temperature as they grow.

Caring for Your Backyard Turkeys: Feeding, Watering, and Health

Now that you have your turkeys settled in their coop or pen, it’s time to focus on their daily care. Proper feeding, ample hydration, and regular health checks are key to keeping your turkeys happy and healthy. Follow these guidelines to ensure your backyard turkeys receive the best care:

Feeding Your Turkeys

Turkeys require a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. Commercial turkey feed is readily available and formulated to provide the right balance of protein, vitamins, and minerals. You can supplement their feed with fresh vegetables and fruits, but make sure not to offer anything poisonous, such as avocado, chocolate, or onion. Avoid giving turkeys any highly processed or sugary foods, as these can cause digestive problems.

Adult turkeys need around 4-6 ounces of feed per day, while young turkeys (poults) need about a quarter to a half of that amount. Ensure your turkeys have access to clean and fresh water at all times, as they need it to digest their feed and regulate their body temperature. Use a waterer that’s easy to clean, refill, and doesn’t spill or tip over easily.

Keeping Your Turkeys Healthy

Regular health checks are crucial to detecting any signs of illness or disease early on. Look out for symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, sneezing, coughing, diarrhea, or unusual behavior. Keep a record of your turkeys’ weight, as sudden weight loss can indicate health problems.

Preventive measures such as vaccination and deworming can help keep your turkeys healthy. Consult a veterinarian who specializes in poultry to develop a vaccination and deworming schedule that works for your flock. Avoid overcrowding your turkeys and keep their living area clean, dry, and well-ventilated to minimize the risk of disease transmission.

Watering Your Turkeys

Water is essential to a turkey’s health and well-being. Make sure to provide clean and fresh water at all times, especially during hot and dry weather when turkeys can easily become dehydrated. Change the water regularly, at least once a day if not more frequently, and clean the waterer and any spillage or dirt that may contaminate the water.

By providing your turkeys with the right nutrition, regular health checks, and ample access to clean water, you’ll be able to keep your flock healthy and happy. Remember to observe them closely for any signs of illness or changes in behavior and consult a veterinarian if needed.

Can I apply the same tips and techniques from raising quail to raising turkeys in my backyard?

Raising turkeys in your backyard may not directly correspond to the tips and techniques utilized to raise quail in your backyard. Although both involve backyard poultry farming, turkeys have distinct needs and behaviors compared to quail. Therefore, it is recommended to gather specific information on raising turkeys in order to ensure their well-being and productivity.

Turkey Behavior and Socialization: Understanding and Managing Your Flock

As you get to know your backyard turkeys, you’ll notice that they have their unique behaviors and social dynamics. Understanding these patterns is essential to managing your flock effectively.

Observation is key when it comes to turkey behavior. Spend time watching your birds to get a sense of their personalities and preferred routines.

Turkeys are social animals and thrive in a supportive environment. Providing adequate space, food, water, and shelter is critical to their overall well-being. Avoid overcrowding your birds and ensure they have enough roosting space to prevent stress or aggression-related issues.

Introducing New Turkeys to the Flock

Introducing new turkeys to an established flock requires careful planning and management to prevent pecking order disruption or aggression.

Begin by quarantining any new birds for at least 30 days to monitor for signs of illness or disease. When introducing them to the flock, do it gradually. Start by placing them in a separate area within the same pen or run, ensuring they can see and hear the established birds. Once they get used to each other’s presence, open up the pen or run and observe them closely for any signs of aggression or dominance.

If possible, try to introduce birds of a similar age and size to minimize pecking order disruption. Keep in mind that some level of aggression is normal during the introduction period, but it should subside over time as the birds establish a new social order.

Handling and Interacting with Your Turkeys

Handling and interacting with your turkeys can help establish trust and prevent fear and aggression-related issues.

Start by approaching your birds slowly and calmly, avoiding sudden movements or loud noises that can startle them. Offer treats like mealworms or fruit to encourage them to approach you. Once your turkeys are comfortable with your presence, gently touch and stroke them to build a bond.

It’s essential to handle your turkeys with care to avoid injury or stress. Always support their breasts and legs when picking them up, and avoid carrying them by their wings or neck.

Dealing with Aggression or Stress-related Issues

Aggression or stress-related issues can arise in turkeys under several circumstances, including overcrowding, poor diet, insufficient water supply, and lack of shelter.

If you notice any signs of aggression or stress, including feather pecking or excessive noise, investigate the root cause of the issue and address it as soon as possible. Consider increasing the amount of space available to your birds, providing a varied and nutritious diet, and offering additional sources of clean water.

In summary, understanding turkey behavior and socialization is critical to managing your flock effectively. Spend time observing your birds, be patient when introducing new birds to the flock, handle them with care, and address any aggression or stress-related issues promptly.


Congratulations! You now have a solid understanding of how to raise turkeys in your backyard. Remember to always prioritize the welfare of your birds by providing them with a comfortable living environment, proper nutrition, and regular veterinary care.

With the tips and best practices outlined in this beginner’s guide, you’ll be on your way to raising healthy and happy turkeys at home. Don’t forget to enjoy the process and learn from your experiences along the way.

Thank you for reading and happy backyard turkey farming!


Q: Can I raise turkeys in my backyard?

A: Yes, you can raise turkeys in your backyard. With the right setup and care, it’s possible to successfully rear turkeys in a backyard setting.

Q: What do turkeys need in their backyard housing?

A: Turkeys require suitable housing that provides shelter from the elements and protection from predators. It should have enough space for them to move around comfortably.

Q: How do I source turkey poults for backyard rearing?

A: You can source turkey poults from local hatcheries or reputable suppliers. Make sure to choose healthy poults from a reliable source.

Q: What should I feed my backyard turkeys?

A: Backyard turkeys require a balanced diet that includes high-quality turkey feed, supplemented with fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Q: How often should I clean the water for my turkeys?

A: It’s important to provide clean and fresh water to turkeys at all times. Clean and refill their water containers daily to ensure they have access to clean drinking water.

Q: What are some common turkey diseases and how can I prevent them?

A: Common turkey diseases include respiratory infections, coccidiosis, and blackhead disease. You can prevent these diseases by practicing good hygiene, providing a clean living environment, and vaccinating your turkeys if necessary.

Q: How do I handle aggression or stress-related issues in my turkey flock?

A: Aggression and stress-related issues can arise in turkey flocks. To address these issues, provide adequate space, ensure proper nutrition, and minimize potential stressors. Separating aggressive birds may be necessary in some cases.

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